Monday, July 25, 2011


You Look Tired

Has a man recently told you, "You look tired" at work? That's a big deal. You're probably putting out distress signals that say "I'm not prepared to have it all!" Here's a mini-guide to help get your face looking bright and perfect so you'll never mess up anything ever again.

1. Apologize — Apologize for everything, especially your face. Now go home and fix your face, and apologize to everyone you make eye contact with on the way home. Apologize when you return. Apologizing means it's your fault, and that's how you remain in control. Stay in control!

2. Wear a Belt — Studies have shown* wearing a belt not only makes you appear slimmer and therefore more attractive, it can also help you lose 5 – 30 lbs. depending how tightly you cinch it around your stomach. Cinch it!


3. Ask the Man If Anyone Ever Asks Him If He Looks Tired — Just kidding! Men never look tired, they only look more powerful.

4. Take a Mini Spa — Just because you don't give yourself a lunch break doesn't mean you don't have five minutes for a mini spa. Lock yourself in the office bathroom and set your cell phone timer. Put sliced cucumbers over your eyes, then massage your temple and sinus areas while reciting positive affirmations and taking vigorous breaths. Rinse your face, then douse it with hot sauce. Follow with a quick application of brown eyeliner.

5. Wear Bright Red Lipstick (or orange-red, depending on your skin tone) — Starting at your left ear and following the projected contour of your natural lip line, outline your lips, ending at your right ear. Repeat for lower lips. Fill in with the stick you're using, or a whole different shade altogether. Go bold! If you're in the mood to splurge, cosmetic tattoo technology now allows for woman's eyebrows to always look groomed and alert.

5*. If no cosmetics are readily available, tape something like a prettier picture of you from the Internet onto your existing face. In a pinch, taping post-its, bookmarks, or newspaper clippings will also help obscure your visage.

6. Scream, "You're right, I AM tired — OF YOUR FACE!" Apologize immediately, then wait to get fired.

Taylor Orci is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. She does wear brown eye liner when she's tired. Someone told her that works(?).

Photo via Flickr

185 Comments / Post A Comment


How do men not realize how rude this is? I wish I could erase every time a guy I've liked has said this to me.

How the hell do you expect me to look when I've been in the editing labs until 4am?


I love imagining the crazy lady in the bathroom carefully applying orange-red lipstick from ear to ear.


@Ophelia THE BAMMER KNOWS ALL. I love you for posting that.


@melis Yesss. I was going to comment that I LOVED THIS because it reminded me of Maria Bamford who is my absolute favorite human being I've never met.

Robin Tully Flannery@facebook

@Ophelia ... hell I AM that crazy lady!

Barbara Gordon

There is a vast gulf between "you look tired" and "you seem tired". In my experience, only men (and your mother) will say the first.


@Taylor Orci: You sound tired.

Yankee Peach

This happened to me just this morning and I came dangerously close to #6, but with more expletive. Actually while I was yelling #6 in my head, "Oh no, I'm fine," was what I actually said, probably because I was, you know, tired.

Also, I have completed variations of #4 in the office ladies room (but without hotsauce. I hate hot sauce.) Don't knock it until you've tried it.


Tip #5 always works for the Joker, who constantly looks fresh and energetic despite his hectic crime schedule.


Happens to me almost every day at work. And it's always men making the commment. The only thing I hate worse is being told to "smile". I'll smile when you're dead, fuckwad.


@kayjay I participated in a lively debate on another ladies blog/website, where the writer was encouraging the readers to just smile already, because it keeps you from looking like a hag, or something like that.
When people (men) tell me to smile, it makes the irrational feminist in me convinced that I need to break freeeeeee of the heavy chaiiiiiins that keep me held down by the man!!! AUUUUUGHHHH it's the worst.


@teenie Yes! It also makes me want to a)steal their wallet, or b) tell them something awful, like that I've been recently widowed, just to shut them up. Perhaps, juicebox, I'm not smiling because I'm thinking about something complicated. It's OK, you wouldn't understand.


@kayjay being told to smile is the worst! I get that all the time...maybe I'd be able to smile more often if I didn't have to wear my "mean" face in order to not be HARASSED!


@kayjay I apparently have one of those faces that's permanently set to sad/distressed cause I get this all the time! And I know sometimes they're just trying to be nice but mostly I just want to yell something like, "My mom just DIED" to teach them a lesson.

Lily Rowan

Yeah, the answer to that is FUCK YOU, BUDDY.


@Ophelia Yeah I have thought about saying something like "My mom just died" (she didn't) and then just BAWLING my eyes out and through the tears saying "sorry for...sniff...not...sniff...smiiiiiling I must have RUINED YOUR DAY I'M SO....SNIFF...SORRRYYYYYYYY".


@kayjay "Give me a smile/Smile!/Why the long face" and "You look tired" = "Hey, I am really not into this possibly negative feeling that I've decided you appear to be experiencing based on this extremely limited interaction. Fix this. Also, I figure the very act of me ordering you to feel and look differently will improve your outlook! Ha, I'm awesome! You are WELCOME."


@teenie I get the smile thing. Also, why aren't you dancing?
This happened in a group on Saturday. It became everyone's major concern to make me dance.


@Dani Ugh, yes! I, too, have one of those faces that when in "rest mode" looks a bit sad or unfriendly. And men (especially older ones) like to tell me to smile. Which only makes me stabby! Next time it happens, I'm totally going to say my dog just died.


@Dani Me too, ugh. My "relaxed" expression apparently says "I am forever unhappy and surly" to men, who feel it is their deity-given responsibility to correct this. The expression on my face when I'm concentrating is even worse; evidently, it says "I hate everything and especially you." If I had a dollar for every time someone got all up in my biz by saying "What's wrong?" to me when I was paying absolutely no attention to them in the first place, I'd be a rich lady.

Of course, the flip side of this is that when I'm actually smiling for no apparent reason people get uneasy, which is just hilarious.


@Marzipan: So, Celine Dion walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Why the long face?"


@Dani I told someone off at work last week for telling me to smile. This was the day after we had to lay off a bunch of staff, and NOBODY was smiling. I kind of lost it at him. The dude came back to me later and apologized, saying that I'm "just so beautiful when I'm smiling." Really, all that did was open up a brand new worm can about women only looking beautiful when they smile. Honestly, I don't even know how to talk to these people anymore.


@kayjay I hate it when people fucking tell me to smile. Especially strangers on the street. It makes me want to look at them, stone-faced and say something like, "Because of you, I will never smile again."


@Mere Me too! People constantly ask me what's wrong. It's gotten to the point where I've actually yelled "nothing, it's just my face!" when in a particular mood.


@kayjay YOU GUYS. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. I was talking to three dudes about this phenomenon JUST LAST WEEK. And each of them--each one! agreed that this is almost.always.flirtatious. Almost always flirtatious. Should I repeat that? Like, I would say "but isn't it sometimes that they're just trying to be dicks?" and they were extremely insistent that it is almost definitely a flirtatious thing. This made me want to die kind of.


@MousesHouse This seems like the worst flirting idea? Like what if something was really wrong and then 20 minutes later they're desperately trying to end this conversation about random work conflict/cat cancer/dad in jail while standing in the check-out line at Barnes & Nobles 5 minutes before close, for example?

Lily Rowan

@MousesHouse OMG, I am seriously going to have to CHOKE A BITCH.

Stop putting my pigtails in the inkwell, Johnny! FUCKING MAN UP.


@MousesHouse Did you tell them "well, it's an asshole way to be flirtatious?" But I don't believe them, because I know a lot of people who get told that all the time in situations where it doesn't seem like a flirtatious thing.


@MousesHouse is it flirting if they say I look mad? Because that happens so much to me!


@kayjay I can believe that, in so far as sometimes it is a way for a guy I'm just straight up just walking past to start up a conversation. But it's still stupid and insulting and I've never wanted to continue that conversation.


@kayjay Keep not smiling, ladies, deadpan/frowny faces are much more attractive than bubbly phony smiling faces.


@MousesHouse those dudes don't get it. i talked with two dudes and they were saying how they'd be so excited if a woman told them to smile and how women have it so easy and should be happy to get the smiling attention and what's so bad about being told to smile anyway? ugh.


@kayjay: Does anyone else smile when they're angry? This makes random commands of "smile" that much worse because technically, MY FACE OBEYS. Ugh, :D #%@$!


@mouthalmighty: I often laugh when I'm angry out of discomfort, which sometimes undermines the point I'm trying to make. On the plus side, it does give me some perspective on what I'm angry about.


It is never them just being nice! More like it is them just being Nice Guys (TM). Has a man ever told another man who looked depressed to smile? No! Men only ever do this to women because they feel like their bodies are public property and they have the right to comment on any woman's appearance and let her know whether or not it's pleasing to him.

The only guys who have ever told me to smile have turned out to be gigantic juiceboxes. And it is so rude, for this man on the street to assume I should just follow his orders. Does he also have permission to tell me to walk faster, or command me to stop and talk to him for a while?

If someone is genuinely concerned about me being sad or upset, there is a kind way to comment on this and open a conversation. "Hey, you look pretty down...is everything OK?" is a far more considerate opener than, "Smile!" which presumes that this man knows my life and emotions far better than I ever could, which is why I should stop being such an emotional, hysterical woman and just smile, which would solve all my problems, obviously!

(However, I also don't think most guys are consciously thinking of this. It's just a function of our culture's rules for gendered interaction, and I bet that if they were ever self-aware enough to question why they felt it was appropriate for them to tell a woman to smile, when they'd never consider doing it to a man, they would realize how infuriating it is and stop.)

The next time a man tells me to smile, I'm going to point to a nearby man with a neutral expression and say, "Thanks! Boy, that has just turned my day around. That guy over there looks like he could use some cheering up. You should go tell him to smile; I'm sure he'll appreciate your input!"


I suppose the 'smile' bit is incrementally better than 'nice tits!' Still, I asked my boyfriend what he thought of it and he hissed.


I always say, "Are you telling everybody to smile, or just me?" And then I keep walking, because I don't want to converse. But I hope it makes them think about what they're doing, at least once in a while.


this has only happened to me once, i was in a club after my prom, watching my (drugged up) boyfriend dancing to the kind of music i do not listen to, and this guy comes up and tells me to smile. i ignore him, and he tells me i look depressed. i say i'm fine and refuse to look at him. he makes a few more attempts at conversation ("who are you here with?" i point out a few of my friends to shut him up. "wow, you sure know a lot of gingers!") and eventually i insist to him i have a boyfriend and to back off. he stays quiet for a while, then tells me "i bet you don't even have a boyfriend you just want me to go away." i point out my boyfriend (again). "okay... cause i was going to try to get you to come home with me." i stare blankly at him. "i guess there's no point now though, is there?" i continue to stare blankly at him. he finally backs off. what kind of predatory creep thinks, oh, wonderful, a girl who looks miserable and exhausted! HOT. i'mma go after THAT. shudder.

it always seems to be total juiceboxes or creepy old dudes when it happens to my friends, too. it is some kind of badge of juiceboxhood.


My (female) boss says this to me every now and again. I think its a cultural divide thing where she thinks this is okay? Its curiously on the days I am feeling pretty bright and chirpy though, and never back when I used to drag my sorry ass into work straight from my boyfriend's place smelling of booze and wearing yesterday's make-up. I might try the lipstick smile thing and see if she notices.


@rayray I get this from my female boss, too. When she asks if I'm tired, I say "no" and stare back blankly, thinking to myself, this is just what my face looks like.


@rayray I worked with a guy who would tell me I looked tired all the time (like twice a week), finally I told him that my face just looks like this, jeez! And he never bothered me again. And then I quit my job because I couldn't stand anyone there but especially him.


@rayray when a female coworker tells me I look tired, I've taken to replying "That's so weird, I was just going to tell you the same thing!"


I got this from my first boyfriend over the weekend. I think I had the best (true) response: "Yea, we just put down Otis (the family dog)"
He said it in a "I'm concerned about you" way, but that still doesn't make it ok.


Also: ladies mags always tell me to put white eyeshadow on the inner corners of my eyes because it will make me look "more alert" or like "my eyes are wider" or something but, in general, I find it just makes me look like all of my eyeshadow has migrated over to the inner corners of my eye and I usually rub it all off by midday anyway?


In the past week, I have been:

1. told that I look tired/just woke up numerous times
2. mistaken for a man. Twice.
3. asked if I'm pregnant.

The truth is, being a pregnant man is really hard work, and I bet I do look really tired.


@mollyringworm I got the "smile" one a lot, but I've also gotten the pregnant one (especially when I threw out my back and had to stand funny with my belly out) and it would piss me off for weeks!

tiny dancer

@mollyringworm Aside from the man comments, I had a similar week. I tried to explain to one woman that I just had some very delicious salted caramel ice cream and my back hurts, but she didn't seem to understand (or believe? probably believe) me. Studying sucks, it's hot, pass the damn ativan.


@tiny dancer My friend told me about her coworker, who, while trying to order a beer, was approached by Tyson Beckford. Tyson Beckford said, "You really shouldn't be drinking" and the coworker said, "Why, Tyson Beckford?" and Tyson Beckford said, "It will hurt your baby" and the coworker said, "Tyson, I'm not pregnant" and Tyson Beckford did not accept that and kept insisting that she was.

Fuck Tyson Beckford. Or was it Tyrese Gibson?


this really is a very rude thing. The last time somebody said this to me it totally threw me off because I didn't feel tired at all NOR did I think I looked tired! My response was way less suave: "uhhh.. what? uhhh I don't .. uhh ... i don't feel tired??"

and it was a dude that I was meeting for the first time in a professional setting. wtf dude. wtf.


@redheadedandcrazy Yeah cos when you deny it you sound like you're covering up. The more you're like 'no REALLY, I had a GREAT night's sleep! And I've been trying these new vitamins and I'm feeling REALLY GOOD lately!!!' with a big smile, the more you can see the pity forming in their eyes as they conclude you're probably some kind of addict or having a breakdown.


@rayray exactly, act like that and you're bound to get a follow-up response like "oh so ... this is you on a ... good day?" with a condescending finger swirl/point.

Nicole Cliffe

@rayray Yes, this. Suddenly you're Blanche from Streetcar, complaining about your uncovered lightbulb.


@rayray Or on your period.


women do it too. a female coworker came into my office last week and said, "wow, you look sick. everything okay?" i wanted to tell back something about my internal organs melting, but didn't.

Lily Rowan

@becky@twitter Nope! Just less-attractive than usual, apparently!


@Lily Rowan this coworker also constantly asks if we're all mad at her, or if she looks okay.

it's like hanging out with that drunken, insecure roommate we all had freshman year of college. i want to tell her to SUADAZA (shut up and drink another zima already).

Lily Rowan

@becky@twitter Is that pronounced like it's in Spanish?


@Lily Rowan ¡si!


@becky@twitter I have been alternating between sobbing and looking for a place to post this since it happened, and I think this is the place. 'Pinners, before you read this, just know that I need your support.

So, I had poison ivy on my arm last week. The following conversation happened between me and an older female co-worker:

Her: "Oh no! (points to my arm) Do you have poison ivy again? [Ed. note - I am always getting poison ivy, so this was not an inappropriate question.]"

Me: "Yup."

Her: "Oh! So is that what's all over your face? Your face looks so red and painful. It looked really painful last week!"

Me: "Uh....uh....uh...(Decides to kill self since she is talking about what I thought was my not-super-noticeable acne. It had gotten much better since last week, when I was suffering from pretty bad Period Acne.)...Ye-e-e-e-s...it's...sure. Yeah."

I should kill myself, right? Right? #SOBmoanDIE


@wee_ramekin ixnay on the illskay.

she, however, should take a giant leap into a vat of toxic waste. why on earth do some people exist just to point out the flaws of others?

tell me where you work so i can put gum in her hair.

Lily Rowan

@wee_ramekin I was literally just thinking how pretty you look!


@wee_ramekin Ouch. Sensitive subject. I know from personal experience. I always say that my adult acne keeps me looking young. Better than dried out and wrinkly. ~O'> I feel so much for you I gave you my snark mouse.


@wee_ramekin Do not kill yourself. But DO, at the very first opportunity, rub your poison-ivied arm on some of this woman's exposed skin.


@becky@twitter I get "You look, like, 15!" Especially from the (generally much older) women on my tennis team. And I want to be like, "Yeah, it's probably the adult acne."


@Bebe I support this action big time.


@Slapfight @marzipan totally agree on the looking younger! i wonder how much of a role that plays. if this crap ever goes away, will i age 10yrs over night? that seems like some terrible, terrible devil deal--youth and acne or clear skin and not-youth? ahhhh.


@everyone You guyyyyyys! I love you all so much :~.)!!! (<---that is me smiling with acne on my face). Thank you for all the support!

Lili L.

@wee_ramekin OH BOY do I feel for you. I "came of age" during the Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding heyday, and I used to stare at her creamy skin in those close-ups just wishing that someday I might have a smooth inch--one solitary, unblistered inch-- on my red face. Fast-forward 15 years. I just sprouted a whole cluster on my Good Side that has lasted 3 months. That same cluster. THREE MONTHS. But we do look younger? I think. Also, concealer has never worked for me, but good foundation has (I use Clinique's Superbalanced). One time I mentioned how awful my skin was and a friend said she'd admired my skin for months. It was the opposite of your experience, but the acne was definitely there, so either she was being super-nice or foundation does magic things.


when I first learned about Concern Trolling, I thought this was what it was.

Nicole Cliffe

I love this so much. Also, if you are reading this and saying very quietly 'I...just thought she looked tired,' what a wonderful opportunity to CHECK YOURSELF.


@Nicole Cliffe I mean, clearly, if you look that tired, you shouldn't be out in public in your current state.


@Nicole Cliffe This is really true. As a modern dude, I want to make sure I am always sensitive to ladies and not acting out the dangerous subtle ingrained misogyny.

So don't just assume based on looks. Think it through. I mean, obviously, if a woman is less than perfect looking, the issue is from one of three areas. You know she's not 'tired', so rather than beat around the bush (HAH!), don't say "You look tired."

Instead, I'd go with the "So, what's up? You don't look so hot, is it related to your lady-parts, your man or lack thereof, or some kind of shopping problem?" The woman (girl, really, only grandmas and man-haters like to be called 'woman') will instantly appreciate that not only are you concerned for her but that you understand her species, and probably blow you on your next business trip.

Nicole Cliffe

@leon.saintjean It's almost always the lady-parts. You're such a thoughtful young man!


'Yes, my vagina hurts.'


@leon.saintjean All true, but there is a special case in which you may tell a lady she must be tired: if you then pause and then explain that you know this because she's been running through your dreams all night. If she doesn't laugh, you must nudge her and say, ha ha, get it? Get it? Then explain in case she doesn't get it.


@melis More pieces of flair will fix that up.


@queenofbithynia -- I try to refrain from telling women jokes ever since Hitchens explained to me that it's a waste of time. I just tell them what kind of pie I'd like them to bake instead.


@leon.saintjean I always have a shopping problem! That is never wrong to say to me.

Judith Slutler

My stock response to this is "I'm not wearing makeup". Whether I am or not, because most of these jackoffs, male or female, won't realize if you are. Say it in a breezy way and then sashay off to take a coffee break because you've deserved it! TA-DA!


@Emmanuelle Cunt Or say: I AM wearing makeup! Because time was I thought dark bags under the eyes were the sexiest indicator of immorality ever [1] and I could not wait to be old so I would have them, like a Beardsley drawing or a John Hurt. Actually time was is now, I still think that, and I still do not have them, just assorted other ravages of time. but soon I will start smudging a veiny-blue eyeshadow pencil up under my eyes and walk into work as if I just came from an all-night syphillis & opium orgy and everyone will think I am SO SO glamorous. and tired.

[1] you know, you're thirteen, you read a lot of Oscar Wilde, you want that "dissipation written on the face" thing

dr. annabel lies

@queenofbithynia Yes! I used to try like hell to cover up my Anna Magnani level dark circles (genetic, always been there) but I've come to find them sort of attractive, too.


@dr. annabel lies I've got the Susan Sarandon bags. I just go with it. "I'm always tired because I'm always having fun."


I play it safe by never addressing anyone for any reason. In fact, just forget I said anything.


these are all great tips. The only concern I have is with the brown eyeliner suggestion. A makeup artist "to the stars" once told me he uses brown eyeliner to MAKE a woman look tired, or otherwise consumptive. I'd stick to black, or very black, eyeliner. Maybe off-black, if you're fair of skin.


@erisb I find navy looks best on me (I have very pale skin).
One time a long time ago I was at work and constantly dropping things, and a customer said "Uh oh you have the dropsies, you must be pregnant!"
I was like...17. But to be fair, there are a lot of pregnant 17 year olds in that town.


@erisb: They'll pry my dark brown eyeliner out of my cold, dead hands. Black makes me look like I've gotten punched, and navy makes me look like I got punched 3 days ago.

Jon Custer

@Jon Custer Have you ever been asked if you were pregnant?

RK Fire

@Jon Custer: That website is new to me and I'm immediately sharing it with everyone. Thank you.


Is "You look like shit" more acceptable?


@Kneetoe I've gotten both, and no!


@rootmarm I find it's always best to go with "Is everything okay, sugartits?" in a sing-songy, gentle tone.

I mean, only in a business setting. You can be a little more informal amongst friends.


@leon.saintjean dying @ ur comments...THANK YOU!! mondays suck but i cant stop giggling!!


@Kneetoe "you look tired" = "you look like shit", at least the latter is more honest


My standard response to that: "Yeah? You do, too."


Everyone is dying in the Sudan and a bunch of people were brutally murdered in Norway and I'm really personally affected by Amy Winehouse's death and I'm 24 and still have no idea how to translate my dead-end office job into a career OF COURSE I LOOK FUCKING TIRED


@doomz BINGO.

Lauren Hayden

@williamjoel Oh my god, have you been reading my diary?


Snapping right back "and you sound really passive-aggressive but whatever" will end this conversation, and possibly any sort of relationship, with Mr. You Look Tired.

Shawn D.

I'm a guy, and when someone has told me I look tired, it has been a woman making the comment 80% of the time.


@Shawn D. But was it your mom?


@Shawn D. See Jon Custer's comment above.


A couple of weeks ago my boss's boss - so my group's VP - asked me if I just "had my hair done" and I guess I kind of smiled and said no and he replied "Oh, I didn't say it looked good, I just wondered if you just had it done." Seriously?


@sox Did you set him on fire? I hope you set him on fire.


@sox HELL AND NO!!! i dont even know what i would have done...kick him in the nads most likely!


@sox One time my boss from hell told me "you would be such a pretty girl if only you would style your hair" ....?

btw I have the most simple, straight mid-length blonde hair. Did she want me to invest in a crimper? Who knows, because I quit very shortly after that.


@lil_bobbytables The Best Time I Set My VP On Fire...


I can also just say "Your mom looks tired," right?


@Layla I'm a big fan of responding with, "You should see how your Mom looks!"

Shawn D.

@Ophelia -- No, the comments I'm referring to are in the context of work. No relatives or significant others involved.


@Shawn D. just teasing you, hon.


And really, the only appropriate response to this is, "Oh really? Then you're mom must look pretty tired this morning, too, Trebek."


Hmm, I tell people they look tired when they look tired - it's more like checking if they're okay or letting them know they're allowed to go get some rest. But also when I want them to feel bad about themselves and hate me, apparently.
Also, I'll take a "you look tired" from the boss as an invitation to call in sick in the near future.


@NeenerNeener It's less-bad/hate-inducing when it's someone you know well. If my sister tells me I look tired, chances are she's worried, not being a biznatch. If it's some random dude I've never met? Claws. Out.


@Ophelia: Thank you. And I would definitely support your cause against random dude.


@NeenerNeener Can you just imagine two sets of wolverine claws coming out almost in unison? Just a quiet little "snick-snick" that breaks the silence, as random dude's face suddenly turns pale...


@Ophelia: I like feeling like a super hero.


once, i took a break from wearing makeup for one day because my allergies were so bad (and my eyes so red and puffy) that it was all going to get wiped off in a tsunami of mucus anyway. the next day i managed to put some eyeliner and mascara on, which lead to one of my very clueless male coworkers to tell me this gem:
him: i just wanted to tell you...you look very pretty today.
me: oh! thanks.
him: yeah, just to let you know, you look so much better when you wear makeup. yesterday you weren't wearing any and...i could tell.


"Thanks! It's actually the face of another, prettier woman. I've spent so many sleepless nights tossing and turning while envy gnaws at my vitals like the fox of Spartan legend until literally all of my vitals were gone and the outside of my skin began rushing into the now-empty cavity of my abdomen, because of the vacuum it created. So my face is on the inside now where no one can see it and I grew a new face out of sheer force of will. But if you don't like this one, I guess I could repeat the process and do it again. Let me know."


@marigny The 6 year old boy I babysit for once told me the same thing...


The proper response to this is "your hair looks thin." If you want to be nicer, you could ook off in the distance and say "I saw a man get mauled by a bear while eating a Snickers bar. I had to kill it with my bare hands....Haven't slept since."


Sorry if I'm going too far OT, but as long as we're talking about inappropriate things people say, I was quite shocked that, after advising friends that I'd been unceremoniously dumped by my partner of nine years, the most common response was, "Was there somebody else?" This did not improve my mood.


@ejcsanfran to that, you should say, "Yes, it was your mom."


@ejcsanfran that drove me insane after my break-up. and from people i didn't know that well! even a concerned "what HAPPENED?" would have seemed too invasive from them, i mean seriously. i can't even.


Oh man, there are some gems in here.

Greg Allan

Wait, do ladies actually think this is a comment about their physical appearance? I say this sometimes to both women and men (and have had it said to me, by both women and men) and it always has more to do with behavior than appearance. Like if you've got your head propped up in your hands and you're staring blankly at the screen I might say it. You might actually look pretty fantastic while you're staring blankly at the screen, but the behavior suggests that you're tired.

And really, it's meant as a camaraderie thing, and not at all as an insult. Like:

Me: Damn, you look tired!
Them: No, I'm just bored with this project I'm working on.
Me: Yeah, tell me about it!

Healthy conversation about our jobs ensues and we mentally high-five at the end and feel a little better. Come to think of it, that's usually the response I get from the men. Women don't usually say anything...

Thanks for the tip, Hairpin! I'll never say this to a woman again.


@Greg Allan Ha ha, who actually thinks a comment about how you look is a comment about how you look? Girls: almost as dumb as they are tired!


@Greg Allan Oh wait, I had another thing. Nobody ever tells me I look tired, even though I yawn and carry on about how tired I am all the time and sometimes even put my head down on the desk and go to sleepytown for five minutes (or longer, how would I know, I'm asleep on my desk.) BUT, if you read any of the comments, you would know that the "behavior" that elicits these comments to women 98.2 percent of the time is NOT WEARING MAKEUP when they usually do. I never do wear makeup to work, so nobody is ever shocked by my humanface into wondering if I am half-dead or something. Hope that helps!

Greg Allan

@queenofbithynia "Look" doesn't have to mean your physical appearance. If I said, "You look like you're enjoying that cheesecake" it doesn't mean, "Wow, your hair looks great while you eat that cheesecake." It probably means something more along the lines of, "You're giving off certain signals, which could include a combination of facial expressions, noises, and other body language, that indicate that you like the cheesecake you're eating."

I know for me personally, when I get back to my desk after a long day of running around and helping people with their problems, and I sit down hard in my chair and let out an exaggerated sigh, I WANT someone to say, "You look tired" because it gives me an excuse to talk about the awful/stressful/difficult day I just had.

But yes, the comments do seem to indicate that women more often than not get this as a response to how they actually look, so perhaps I'm just using it wrong.


@Greg Allan In the case of behavioral observations, just say "seem" - "You seem tired" = "I have observed that you are slumped in your chair staring vacantly at your bouncing ball screen saver." Whereas "You look tired" = "you look pasty and your eyes are puffy, and holy shit those are the darkest dark circles I've ever seen."


@Greg Allan

Uh, most women can tell the difference between a comment given when they're falling asleep on the keyboard, and a comment given when they're all just standing around making conversation. The first could reasonably be connected with one's behavior, but that's not the kind anybody's talking about, because that's not the kind that's ever said. Men say "you look tired!" when they're just talking to women, hell, they say it as a GREETING. In what possible universe would that not be construed as an insult? "Hey, good morning! You don't look your best!" Trust, this is not a bunch of women yawning at their desks and then getting asked if they look tired. This is a bunch of dudes drawing attention to women's not-up-to-par appearance.

Greg Allan

@Diana @Bebe And that's precisely why I read the Hairpin. :) Thanks for the enlightenment!


Well, if you're not even going to get defensive about it, what am I going to do with all this popcorn?


@Greg Allan No shit that "'You look like you're enjoying that cheesecake' doesn't mean, 'Wow, your hair looks great while you eat that cheesecake.'" Probably because "enjoying" is, y'know, a gerund and not an adjective, and therefore doesn't have any connotation of characteristic. In other words, "you look like you are performing an action" ≠ "you look like you embody a certain quality."

Greg Allan

@Xanthophyllippa Hey, relax! I've already admitted I was wrong.

Maybe you wouldn't look so tired if you weren't playing grammar police. :)


@Greg Allan WOW. Just...wow.

@Greg Allan Are you kidding me?


Somewhat related: Yes I know I have a cold sore. I know about my zit. I meant to fix my hair like this. I'm aware that I'm tall. You're right, I am sweating. I'm blushing? Oh I just thought an invisible man just set my face on fire.

But please tell me if there is a booger hanging out of my nose. I probably don't already know about that.


@mollyringworm oh god. The people who just say "wow, you're really tall!" Can't we just dispose of them?


@insouciantlover the blatant statements of something you already CLEARLY are well aware of kind of make me feel all nonplussed too. like "wow, you're really pale!" or "you're so small!". I wouldn't even know how to reply, except snarkily. like "yes, being locked in a basement for 12 years does that" or "from the ages of 4-13, my parents only fed me weekly so I would stay small"


@mollyringworm I also love the very helpful people who make these extremely astute statements and then follow them with really super-awesome unsolicited advice, i.e., every older woman in the world who has seen me out and about and said, "You are so pale! You'd better put on sunscreen." It only makes me want to choke them with my 4 bottles of SPF 100 a little bit. Just a little bit.


@mollyringworm THIS. It drives me crazy! I get people telling me "wow, you have really blue eyes" all. the. time. Actually not so often anymore, but for a while there, perfect strangers would tell me my eyes were blue. Um, ok...I know my eyes are blue, you felt the need to tell me this why? Just so awful!


@insouciantlover Only if we can also dispose of people who say, "Wow, you're really short!"


@teenie Haha... I tell people, totally deadpan, "there were a lot of hormones in milk in the 80s."


I think the best is getting asked "are you okay? you look sick." on the days when you wake up late and therefore don't have any time to put on makeup.

Sylvia A. Rudy@facebook

I use this as a diagnostic tool. If three people walk up to me in the space of an hour to tell me I look like hell, then I have a migraine.


I hate this. Why do people DO THIS? I hate any comment on my appearance though, including the vague and unsettling, 'you look different today......', or the massively offensive 'you look nice today/in that outfit/with your hair like that', because I feel it implies I usually look shit, and if it's said enthusiastically, it means I usually look REALLY shit. Especially when my mother says it.


@sophduck, hrmmmm be careful with that, interpreting enthusiastic compliments as intricate passive-aggressive secret insults kinda verges on crazytown. If I have a hot friend who looks hot every day, I'm not gonna compliment her every day because that's weird and creepy, but if she mixes it up, I'll say "oh you look so good" with your hair up/down/curly/straight/whatever and it doesn't make much sense to read that much into it


@sophduck You look nice today is massively offensive? People. Let's all learn how to take a compliment, okay?


@thebestjasmine The generic "you look nice today" is fine by me, but I kind of get where she's coming from. It's stuff like "you look so nice without your glasses" or "you should really wear your hair like that all the time" that gets me. It's basically like saying "Your normal appearance is barely this side of acceptable and what you're doing now is a huge improvement, please for the love of god don't ever stop."


this came just in time. i literally got told that this morning!!! by a man!!! at work!!!


Also, I was recently thinking of ways to express sympathy for someone's seeming exhaustion without insulting them. The answer? "you're acting tired, are you ok?"


@Sierra How about the completely non-judgemental, "Hey, need a break?" Even better if it's framed as "Hey, need a break? I'm going to go find a G&T for lunch."


I had a female boss who used to say this to me. I finally decided to take advantage of it - I'd say, "Yeah, I am a little," and act all sleepy and little out of it all day, then call in sick the next day. You know, to catch up on my sleep.


To be fair, the horrendous she-monster at my work said this to me a few weeks ago in front of my boss and God and everybody else. The worst part of it is that it only happens to me on a day when I really feel like I've got it going on, when I'm really happy with my appearance and my outfit. Cue "You look tired." I'm pretty sure I said something like, "What a rude thing to say, thanks a lot." She's a lot older than I am so she doesn't get called out for her miserable behavior most of the time but I noticed my coworkers smiling behind her back after I snapped at her. Fuck her, she sucks.


What am I missing? Why is this bad? Possibly I'm just too aspi to understand…

I hate it when people tell me to smile or cheer up though. Can't help my grumpy eyebrows and smiling is for pleasers.


@MurderMyAngel Obviously your face is displaying your guilt, you seraph-killer.


@melis Tried to hide my Man Who Laughs grin behind a cute butterfly. Didn't work.


Two of my favorites at my work, where I rarely wear makeup:

1) You look so nice with makeup on. Keep it up! (Lady boss, in front of a whole room of people)

2) Are you wearing make up or something today? (Answer no, I had barrettes in my hair)

3) What's this wild hair and wild look in your eyes? (Followed up by the person who said this physically brushing my bangs out of my eyes! Definite personal space invasion shock moment. Also for the record, this is my hair. It's curly. I like it, its always clean and brushed, it simply falls somewhere between Jennifer Aniston and Kiki Smith on any given day.)

Tempted to go Winston Churchill on them. "Yes, well tomorrow when I am rested I shall not be so tired, but your comment will still be inappropriate."


had to register just to chime in. I get this A LOT. probably the best (worst?) was the lady next to me on the plane when I was coming back from my brother's funeral. you know what lady? I am not smiling because i am SAD. i am also tired because I spent all night crying.

oh and also, it is not appropriate to ask me how he died. and when I say "accident" you really don't want to know what kind. just shut up and watch the stupid cartoon movie. ARGGGH why do strangers want to be all up in my life?


Men always tell me to smile and it fills me with rage. THIS IS MY FACE ASSHOLE.


@FoxyRoxy But don't you understand? They have to look at it. Do you know what a trial it is for a guy to have to look at a face that isn't super gorgeous and smiling at him? It is like... having to live in Sudan without twitter.


@gfrancie What? There are men who look at a woman's FACE"?


i'm totally guffawing at my desk. but you don't look tired when you are guffawing at your computer screen, just crazy.

Sam Tibbs@facebook

"You look tired."

Sara E Anderson@facebook

A few days ago, I was tiredly zoning out while in line at the grocery store, and the female cashier said, with some sympathy, "You look how I feel." I was not paying attention, so I just made a joke about miniature naps, and was mad at her all day.


Sometimes it could be cultural. When I was teaching English in Japan I used to get offended and paranoid when my students would tell me "you look tired." And it happened nearly every day! Finally I realized that they were trying to translate a common Japanese phrase, "otsukaresama desu," which means "you've tired yourself out," that is often used to greet colleagues / friends when they are working. After that I just started answering, "Yes, it's a busy day today" and quit worrying about it.
Not sure what I would say if someone said it to me out of the blue in the US, though. It would depend heavily on context.

Patrices Pieces

I have also been blessed with Susan Sarandon-style eyes, and people have always felt the need to tell me I look tired, or angry, or stoned. This still happens and it still drives me nuts, but one time I saw Perez Hilton interviewing Victoria Beckham and he asked her why she never smiles. She eloquently said something along the lines of, "When my face is in repose, it just looks like I'm unhappy, I don't know why." That made me feel better, for some reason.


@ballbiscuit At least you don't have Steve Buschemi eyes. http://chickswithstevebuscemeyes.tumblr.com/


@ballbiscuit Also, Bitch face for the win. It wards off the crazies. I don't get a lot of "hey, smile!" or "You look tired" I think cause they know I'd bite their heads off (or they think).


O fuck. I used to get you look tired/long day eh?/smile! all the time at my former job doing airline flight ops. We'd all (only the females that is) get comments on our appearance. I think it's a common belief in the airline industry that female employees' appearance is somehow public property, that passengers have a right to comment on it somehow. Probably the whole "stewardess" fetish bullshit.

It was a charter airline whose system wasn't computerized and my job was technical.I would get royally pissed and try to explain that I was concentrating on doing calculations involving cargo weight, fuel, aircraft weight etc, triple checking them and checking weather reports and dispatch messages so your plane doesn't fucking crash, asshole.

Angry Birds

You probably look tired because you've been having babies all day. And you probably had to wake up at 4AM to make breakfast for your huge babies. Or you had to get up to feed the 10 cats you have in your studio apartment. Quit complaining, no one cares.


HA! I loved this. I work with a security guard who was forever telling me, "You look tired." Finally, I was, like, "You are ALWAYS telling me how tired I look!" The next time I saw him, he looked at me and said. "Hey. You look really well-rested."


fondue with cheddar

I forget where I heard this and whether it was from real life or a movie, but some rich old lady said something like, "As a woman ages, her hats should get larger and more grand so a man has something to look at besides her face."


The few times I've gotten a "you look tired!" from my boss, it has resulted in getting to go home early. Ka-ching! You gotta milk that shit.


Ugh! I had a boss (female!) who used to tell me this ALL the time, and point out my gray hairs...when I was 24. So much for a role model.

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